Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

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For a Green Thumb,
Match the Saucer Size to the Pot Size

20150104Did you know that the size of the saucer a flower pot stands in is important in the survival of the houseplant that grows in it?

To choose the right size saucer, place it upside down on the top of the pot: the saucer should have a diameter as large as that of the pot or even slightly wider. For example, for a 6 inch (15 cm) pot, the corresponding saucer should also measure at least 6 inches (15 cm). Few people know this, but a horticultural saucer is designed so that, when it is filled almost to the edge, it contains enough water to moisten all the soil in the pot. Too many people choose too small a saucer. In fact, most decorative pots (obviously designed by non-gardeners!) come with a built-in saucer clearly too small for the pot it’s attached to! So when you water the first time, the saucer begins to overflow before the plant is satisfied with the amount applied. Not wanting to cause damage to your furniture, you add less water the next time… and thus the poor plant in the pot begins to suffer from a chronic lack of water. Your effort to “avoid damaging the furniture” overrides the health of the plant and may even gradually kill it!

Do not be fooled by appearances when you choose a saucer! A pot is narrower at the base than at the top and for some reason humans generally find a saucer that is somewhat tight around the base of the pot more aesthetically pleasing than a saucer of the right size. Look at the picture attached: most people will find the saucer seems a little too big. Yet it is exactly the size to correctly water the plant!

So much for a correctly potted plant, but sometimes plants outgrow their pots, one sign of which is that they begin to need watering two or three times a week. Obviously, the ideal thing would be to repot into a larger container, but while you’re waiting, simply place the plant in a bigger saucer and fill it to the brim with water. It’s amazing how quickly it will drink it all up! And it will now have enough moisture to last a few more days before it needs water.

This tendency to undersaucer (I know, I know, it’s not a real word, but…!) Is a major cause of the famous “black thumb” so many people claim they suffer from. Increase the size of your saucer so it matches your plant’s needs and suddenly your thumb will become much greener!

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